HEU joined by BCGEU, CUPE BC in appeal of perfusionists decision

Unions representing more than 120,000 public sector workers have sided with HEU in its bid to overturn a labour board decision that undermines health care labour relations.

BCGEU and CUPE BC have joined HEU in its application to reconsider a Feb. 17 Labour Relations Board decision that transfers clinical perfusionists to HSA.

HEU’s application says that the LRB failed to properly apply the Health Authorities Amendment Act — Bill 28 — in determining to which union clinical perfusionists belong.

“There’s a growing consensus in the health care labour community that the LRB has taken a piece of legislation that was designed to restore union representation rights, and turned it on its head,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “Other unions have now recognized that the LRB has punched a hole in Bill 28 which could result in major jurisdictional disruptions — the changes in union membership that followed the initial round of health care restructuring in the mid-90s would pale in comparison.”

HSA, which withdrew from their original application after a CLC-appointed umpire found that they were violating the central labour body’s anti-raiding policy, has intervened in HEU’s application for reconsideration as an interested party.

“If it was a violation of the CLC constitution for HSA to make the initial application, then surely it would also be a violation for HSA to become involved in what is in fact an appeal of the decision on the application in question,” wrote CUPE president Judy Darcy in a letter to the CLC.

HEU is pressing the LRB to reverse itself and restore the primacy of that section of Bill 28 which allows unions to follow their members into another bargaining unit.

The LRB, in essence, says transfers under the Labour Code supercede the provisions of Bill 28. But HEU is also asking government to amend the Health Authorities Act to make its meaning more clear and less open to interpretation by the LRB.

In other developments, the BC Federation of Labour has established a “technical committee” to try and reach a protocol between HEU and HSA on jurisdictional matters — a move that Allnutt says is a welcome but partial solution to the issue.